NOVELIST I SONGWRITER I MUSIC PRODUCER
Donnacha lives on a remote Irish island.
Haunted by the memory of his institutionalised wife and failing at being
a surrogate father to his niece and nephew, he tries to find new
meaning by giving refuge to an African teen who has albinism.
In parts of Africa, people with albinism are considered magical and
witch doctors convince remote tribes they will be blessed with good luck
and wealth by drinking a broth made from the body parts of albinos.
This makes them a hunted people.
Dubliner, Jonah Odjinwahlia, has a world-changing scientific theory
and suffers from albinism. When his petty criminal of a father plans to
sell him to traffickers, he is given refuge on the island of Treoir. But
his arrival amongst the sheltered community sparks old superstitions.
Once Jonah goes missing, his benefactor, Donnacha, sets off on a
perilous trek across Tanzania to hunt for the witch doctor Jonah has
been sold to.
Set against a backdrop of conservatism and superstition, Treoir is
both a gripping plot and an exploration into cultural norms that span
the modern and third worlds, highlighting the arbitrary remedies we
create for our fragility and human nature—that can legitimise our
most abhorrent behaviours.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 October 2020
But, clearly needing more problems, he decides to help Jonah, an albino youth from Dublin, whose Tanzanian family are proposing to sell him to a witch-doctor. Jonah’s arrival demonstrates it’s not only Tanzanians who are superstitious about Albinism. The youth’s presence upsets the locals, and not only those who already have a problem with Donnacha.
The world on the island is clearly not as Donnacha sees it, and at the start I wanted to shake him shouting, Wake up! Like many drunks, he takes to the booze at the worst of times, making himself vulnerable to his enemies. This is a complex novel with many strands. The characters, especially Donnacha, are well drawn.
The claustrophobia of the closed community on the island is well realised and builds. When Jonah disappears, Donnacha has to make a tough decision. Fearing he has failed yet another person, he risks everything and sets off on an expedition to recover the youth.
The danger and threats build to a satisfying climax.